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HarperCollins promises more e-books in 2010

April 21, 2010

I visited the London Book Fair yesterday for a seminar about e-books and e-readers, organised by Sony. Though everyone on the panel was very enthusiastic about the medium and its possibilities, the key problem was identified early on. Journalist Viv Groskop said: “There’s hardly anything to read.” She was also unimpressed with pricing, having tried to buy Andrew Rawnsley’s latest book and found that the e-book costs £5 more than the hardback.

Those are exactly the problems I’ve identified before. There are, as readers often point out when I touch on this subject, thousands of free, out-of-copyright works available as e-books but when it comes to copyrighted works the choice is frequently far too limited.

Some hopeful news came from panellist David Roth-Ey, digital publisher at HarperCollins. He said HarperCollins has between six and seven thousand titles available as e-books right now and they are working on adding another 5,000 titles this year. That almost doubles the size of the catalogue, which is great news for anyone who has been struggling to find things to read.

Roth-Ey added that back catalogue titles are particularly hard to deal with because rights issues can be complicated and “we don’t always have digital files of backlist books to hand”.

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